Re: We're Sending 300 Military Advisers To Iraq?

1

Advisors is just a euphemism for special forces, right?


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 5:15 AM
horizontal rule
2

I thought they were more consultants.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 5:22 AM
horizontal rule
3

Yes, "advisors" generally seems to mean "mostly Green Berets" (who are, officially, "Special Forces" - the generic term used in the military for the Green Berets AND the Navy SEALs, Delta Force, etc., is "Special Operations Forces"). However, advising, training, and (sometimes) fighting alongside non-American combatants is one of the primary tasks of US Special Forces, so it's not purely euphemistic. That being said, I wouldn't be surprised if some of these "advisors" are actually tasked with doing non-advice things, performing clandestine tasks not in direct cooperation with Iraqi military.


Posted by: medrawt | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 5:27 AM
horizontal rule
4

Is this the second time as farce?


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 5:27 AM
horizontal rule
5

President Diem will be delighted, I'm sure.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 5:28 AM
horizontal rule
6

President Diem will be delighted, I'm sure.

I was just thinking of the anecdote about John Paul Vann, one of the earliest American "advisors" in the Vietnam conflict, being asked by Walt Rostow (LBJ's national security advisor) whether he thought the war would be over in six months*. Vann's reply: "Oh hell no, Mr. Rostow. I'm a born optimist. I think we can hold out longer than that."

*The Friedman unit avant la lettre!


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 5:36 AM
horizontal rule
7

Another test of American institutions, but surely this time the U.S. has got the benefit of experience, right?

I mean, it's not like anyone is going to put Paul Wolfowitz on TV saying that fighting against Saddam ISIS is the same as fighting against al Qaeda.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 5:49 AM
horizontal rule
8

but surely this time the U.S. has got the benefit of experience, right?

Another apposite quip from Vann: "We don't have twelve years' experience in Vietnam. We have one year's experience twelve times over."


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 5:52 AM
horizontal rule
9

Never give up.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 6:03 AM
horizontal rule
10

well played, 5. Made me chuckle, (right past the graveyard).


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 6:04 AM
horizontal rule
11

Wait, did 7.2 already happen?

9: You just know that Frum felt so smart for that comment.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 6:09 AM
horizontal rule
12

I thought they were more consultants.

Highly paid, incredibly high opinion of themselves, over-reliant on PowerPoint, tend to come in and throw their weight around without really understanding the situation, then leave after a few weeks and announce that they've solved the problem... yes, sounds about right.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 6:16 AM
horizontal rule
13

12: you forgot "Explain all failures with 'the client bungled the implementation."


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 6:18 AM
horizontal rule
14

That reminds me, today I'm making slides. Usually we have people for that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 6:21 AM
horizontal rule
15

I like the idea of 300 special forces passing out glurgy words of wisdom: "God never closes a door without opening a window" "Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration" etc.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 6:28 AM
horizontal rule
16

15: Also, with bad clipart and poorly chosen animations.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 6:29 AM
horizontal rule
17

When you have star wipe, why use anything else?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 6:32 AM
horizontal rule
18

Re: a decade spent setting up and training the Iraqi army:

Do we have any evidence that was a serious goal? From a distance at least a lot of he activities there in the previous decade look more like money laundering than serious projects. This certainly best characterizes al least some of the contracts awarded.

Did the US army have a real mandate to leave behind an effective fighting force, or we're the looking to window dress a potentially ignominious disengagement?


Posted by: Delinking | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 6:39 AM
horizontal rule
19

11.2: Frum is sounding more reasonable on this topic than I would ever have thought possible.

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/06/iraq-isnt-ours-to-save/372932/


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 6:47 AM
horizontal rule
20

I read somebody who was arguing that Maliki hadn't wanted a really strong, well-disciplined army for reasons of not being couped. I don't know enough about the situation to know if this is reasonable or not.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 6:48 AM
horizontal rule
21

14: How does that work? Wouldn't telling someone what goes on the slides take about as long as making them yourself?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 6:51 AM
horizontal rule
22

20: That was in Slate. I thought it made sense.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 6:52 AM
horizontal rule
23

21: I'm not the lead author and usually that person will take the results (from tables I've made or had someone make), decide what they want to present, and put them on slides themselves. Then administrative staff will format the slides and then I'll check them. It's not a bad life.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 6:55 AM
horizontal rule
24

It's not a bad life.

And so efficient!


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 6:58 AM
horizontal rule
25

It's not a bad life.

I still think Frank Capra was a fool for changing that title.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 6:59 AM
horizontal rule
26

It actually is. We commit a fuckton of science on a very limited budget.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 7:00 AM
horizontal rule
27

Maliki-blame is useful in the U.S. - the narrative that he's a fuckup helps keep us from backing him too aggressively - but really, what's the guy supposed to do?

It would be nice to have an inclusive-minded guy running Iraq, just as it would have been nice to have a minimally competent US occupation of Iraq. But it's not clear to me that either thing was possible, or if it were possible, that it would have made much difference.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 7:05 AM
horizontal rule
28

Real scientists use metric, Moby.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 7:11 AM
horizontal rule
29

But really, advisers? The US military just spent a full decade setting up and training the Iraqi army.

They're not those kind of advisers (if they were, there's not near enough of them). They're going to be looking at possible targets for air strikes and otherwise sussing out what's actually going on on the ground. They're doing recon and intel collection.

U.S. to Send Up to 300 Military Advisers to Iraq:

They will gather intelligence on how big a threat the group poses as well as which militant targets could potentially be struck if Mr. Obama decides to order airstrikes. And they will give the United States an assessment of the complex security situation in Iraq, which involves not only the militants, but also Sunni tribes, former Baathists and Shiite militias. [...]Other advisers will staff two joint operations centers, which will be used to collate and share intelligence with Iraqi officers, and to do joint planning so that Iraqi forces can better pursue Sunni militants. One will be in Baghdad and the other in northern Iraq, expected in Kurdistan.

Basically, two field HQ's for directing air traffic.

So they're goin' with the 'precision-targeted surgical strikes' to support the Iraq government keeping Iraq together theory.

(My opinion and the official DC opinion are (very likely temporarily) running along parallel tracks. They want to keep Iraq together, the Kurds in and the Iranians out. I don't care about keeping Iraq together, the Kurds can leave anytime, and the Iranians are welcome to help the Shia hang on to Shia territory as far as I'm concerned. I am concerned with hammering ISIS because those guys are serious assholes. I expect Official DC is concerned with ISIS mainly as a threat to their previous imperial project (Iraq) and their two current imperial projects (Syria and Iran). I think most Americans would just like the whole Middle East to go away. Can't blame them.)

I can't tell which way Obama is going yet but it looks like he's going to do the minimum to keep Official DC happy.

max
['I HATE EVERYBODY.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 7:15 AM
horizontal rule
30

It's 1,000 fuckkilos.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 7:15 AM
horizontal rule
31

hi, max!
They want to keep Iraq together, the Kurds in and the Iranians out.
I *think* I see what you did there


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 7:20 AM
horizontal rule
32

29: Still, we had a full decade to train people in Iraq to be able to do that kind of thing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 7:43 AM
horizontal rule
33

Did we give/sell them the hardware that would do the precision striking?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 7:45 AM
horizontal rule
34

33: fortunately, no. It would have been immediately sold to the Iranians for cash, or, if not, captured or destroyed by ISIS.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 7:50 AM
horizontal rule
35

The one ray of hope in this clusterfuck is that the coalition currently being lead by ISIS is highly likely to fall apart soon after ISIS tries to do any governing. The only thing holding them together is hatred of the central government.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 8:06 AM
horizontal rule
36

Because anarchy is awesome.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 8:11 AM
horizontal rule
37

That's what the Sex Pistols said.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 8:13 AM
horizontal rule
38

The one ray of hope in this clusterfuck is that the coalition currently being lead by ISIS is highly likely to fall apart soon after ISIS tries to do any governing. The only thing holding them together is hatred of the central government.

Maybe now he's got some free time, Eric Cantor can give them some advice on how to deal with that situation.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 8:23 AM
horizontal rule
39

The only thing holding them together is hatred of the central government.

This is one reason I'm concerned our presence may do more harm than good. Because now they also get the extra juice that comes with "resistance to the oppression of Western occupiers." That's a useful marketing hook for them when they go fund raising in the Gulf States.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 8:25 AM
horizontal rule
40

If they keep it up, their extra juice is going to come from "stand with us or the Shiites will kill us all.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 8:29 AM
horizontal rule
41

And they won't even have time to close their quotes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 8:31 AM
horizontal rule
42

" There you go.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 8:32 AM
horizontal rule
43

36: It's not obvious to me that some form of anarchy is worse that rule by ISIS. Those fuckers are evil.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 8:52 AM
horizontal rule
44

I've got pretty high standards for how evil a government has to be to beat complete disorder. I don't know enough about ISIS to say that they're not that bad, but it's never going to be my first guess.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 8:58 AM
horizontal rule
45

I get the impression they are at about a Saddam level of evil, with some extra religious nutterey thrown in. Given the lack of better options, I can accept that as the price of stability, especially if its contained to Sunni areas.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 9:11 AM
horizontal rule
46

43: The same thing was said about Saddam. But violent chaos is a horrific day-to-day existence.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 9:12 AM
horizontal rule
47

Pwnt.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 9:13 AM
horizontal rule
48

Democracy Now had an OK background piece this morning-- apparently Official Washington is considering or actually backing Chalabi (Shiny suits, connections in London not Baghdad, Shia) for Malaki's succesor.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 9:15 AM
horizontal rule
49

I don't see how the ISIS has enough soldiers to actually win a stable victory. I think they are the complete disorder.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 9:17 AM
horizontal rule
50

I thought the War Nerd piece on this that's everywhere was good - overreaction may be the biggest danger.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 9:20 AM
horizontal rule
51

That seems plausible to me as well. I just wouldn't call the prospect of their falling apart, likely or not, a ray of hope.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 9:20 AM
horizontal rule
52

Official Washington is considering or actually backing Chalabi

Jesus, we never ever learn.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 9:23 AM
horizontal rule
53

Curveball totally says he's the man for the job.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 9:25 AM
horizontal rule
54

the War Nerd piece on this

Yes, it's excellent. ISIS is assholes, sure, but so would be any group that would replace them, if we even had any chance to determine their fate. Just get the fuck out and let the Balkanization get underway. It's going to be bloody and awful, but it's going to happen one way or the other.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 9:28 AM
horizontal rule
55

48: Any word on how they propose to overthrow a duly elected president and install their favored puppet? 'Cause whatever Maliki's faults he was elected in free and fair elections. I'd like to see him step down in favor of someone less sectarian but that seems unlikely.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 9:30 AM
horizontal rule
56

55. Yes. No airstrikes will be airstruck until he strikes an exit pose.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 9:35 AM
horizontal rule
57

Whatever does happen, I'm not happy about having American fingerprints on it. Let the Middle East resolve its own shit.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 9:42 AM
horizontal rule
58

Just get the fuck out and let the Balkanization get underway.

I think this is going to be the inevitable end point. What is up in the air is how long it takes for people at the top to figure it out.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 9:46 AM
horizontal rule
59

Whatever does happen, I'm not happy about having American fingerprints on it.

Me neither, but that's a given whether or not we have the sense to stay out of it now. Our fingerprints are kind of baked into the cake here.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 9:48 AM
horizontal rule
60

Our fingerprints are kind of baked into the cake here

Jack Horner gets his just desserts.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 9:51 AM
horizontal rule
61

Drum has a piece up saying that independent Kurdistan is actually realistic, as Turkey no longer is afraid of the concept. That doesn't help much with the rest of the impending shitshow, but it's at least one fairly stable, non-awful country in the region.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 9:52 AM
horizontal rule
62

I don't see why Turkey gets a veto, although its nice they are coming around. I think Turkey did a lot of damage in Syria by preventing the possibility of a Kurdish alliance with the other rebel factions, which might have prevent the rebellion from descending into full-on Islamism.

I'm going presidential here for dipshit professional conflict reasons.


Posted by: Woodrow Wilson | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 10:04 AM
horizontal rule
63

61: There was a question for you, not from me, in the "New Friends" thread.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 10:05 AM
horizontal rule
64

but it's at least one fairly stable, non-awful country in the region.

Turkey or Kurdistan?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 10:05 AM
horizontal rule
65

especially if its contained to Sunni areas.

There seems to be a bit of a disagreement on what those actually are.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 10:16 AM
horizontal rule
66

I think this is going to be the inevitable end point.

Nope. Still late opening part of the game.

Kurdistan will be fine, getting along with Turkey.

Sunnistan really doesn't have resources, especially after losing Kirkuk. Mosul was just a trading city, a waypoint. Sunnistan terribly landlocked, way South is terrible desert, will inevitably look for a port and paths to commerce.

West first to Damascus and the Med, then Southeast to Bahdad and Basra. As it has for centuries.

The Iraqi Shia know their history of being dominated by Sunni, and the know the river...Sunnis control of upriver? The Shia will try to take back Mosul.
Maybe again and again...Iran will will be tempted, but unlikely to jump for the US-Saudi (Israel-minor player) tarbaby.

Which is what it is, and always has been, traps for Iran, Assad, Hezbollah. The plan is working as intended since 1995. No mistakes were made.

Be interesting to see who Obama bombs. One theory is to drive ISIL west again against Assad. We got time, oil isn't going anywhere.

The scuttlebutt at FDL is that the CIA bribed the Iraqi commanders to desert Mosul. They jumped too quickly to ask Maliki to resign. Embarrassing. Y'all can't imagine that Americans/Saudis would cause the precipitating event?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 10:30 AM
horizontal rule
67

I think in general keeping the organization that started an ethnic civil-war the last time it was trying to stabilize Iraq, out, is a good idea.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 10:34 AM
horizontal rule
68

Sunnistan really doesn't have resources

Except for oil and water.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 10:38 AM
horizontal rule
69

Those won't mix.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 10:39 AM
horizontal rule
70

The MSM, and that sadly includes Cole somewhat, are not to be trusted. Drum knows shit.

Guardian says ISIL has found billions and billions in banks and by selling oil. Damn they're smart, huh?

Just watch what happens, see who benefits, and presume the really powerful players are pulling the strings.

Sunnistan looks very very good...for the Sunni oilarchies.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 10:40 AM
horizontal rule
71

68:Not really much oil, most is south of baghdad or around kirkuk. They have Assads little patch, but it isn't as if Syria was a major exporter. And Assad may want it back.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 10:43 AM
horizontal rule
72

War Nerd was ok. Yes, Cole is still definitely worth reading, for background. Pat Lang's place is good.

Here's the Source for the Firebagger craziness.

Some of it, like partition was always the plan, but stopped by Sistani et al, temporarily, makes sense.

"Their first statements confirmed in all respects the information from Syrian intelligence services: ISIL is managed by American, French and Saudi officers"

I don't necessarily believe this, although of course he probably means mercenaries, contractors, independents with deniability. The 1000 Chechnyans in ISIL points right fucking at SA however.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 10:55 AM
horizontal rule
73

Turkey still drives a lot of what is going on - look at the terrain held by ISIS and match it to Turkish-Syrian border crossings. Turkish conservative Sunni opinion is still so strongly anti-Assad that ISIS receives some support even now, even with the hostages. There are rumors, also, that this hostage crisis is part of some Erdogan/Davutoglu game and is not in fact a crisis. Turkish opposition media still discusses money and arms flowing from Gaziantep to Raqqa, as well as from Saudi Arabia. Though the situation seems outwardly to be at the cusp of a realignment (Erdogan met with Rouhani recently) I think Erdogan/Davutoglu are too deeply committed to Sunni sectarian foreign policy, as deeply as are Saudi Arabia and Qatar, even though TUrkish government newspapers say that ISIS is some arm of British intelligence (?!).

Also there is domestic Turkish politics: as Erdogan begins his presidential run he needs to make his messaging involve the Sunni near-abroad to distract from numerous domestic embarrassments. Thus in AKP campaigns Morsi's face is everywhere, while Sisi, Assad, and Maliki are portrayed murderous (and maybe Israel-funded) thugs. It is not a coincidence that most of the dead at Gezi were Shi'i, and that an AKP official has called Turkish Alevis "footsoldiers for Assad".

Then there is the situation with Abdullah Ocalan, PKK godfather, now simultaneously leading (from his island prison) a wonderfully progressive social-democrat/Kurdish nationalist party in Turkish parliament AND the Syrian Kurdish forces. I don't know his relationship to the Barzanis.

Fantasy solution: Let the Peshmerga advance and subdue the Arabs of upper Mesopotamia; let another Kurd lead the region like the Kurdish Saladin did; let Iran march its guard from Baghdad until the two meet. As for Syria... no idea.


Posted by: Angela Lurkel | Link to this comment | 06-22-14 3:45 AM
horizontal rule
74

The whole 'when to leave' debate always struck me as odd. It's like the neocons stuck a knife in Iraq and when someone says we should take it out they point out that blood loss will be the result.


Posted by: SnarkyPants | Link to this comment | 06-22-14 10:44 AM
horizontal rule
75

63: I'm just leaving this reply everywhere: Noodlehead is the great Thai noodle place.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-23-14 3:14 PM
horizontal rule